SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











Have I mentioned that my Bunco Babes like my ideas but hate my vocabulary? They believe “cheaptitude” has such a negative connotation! And, honestly, when you really think about it, who wants to be cheap?

I do.

Cheaptitude is a positive attitude about frugality.  Cheaptitude, for me, has been an entire lifestyle change. It involves repurposing, decluttering, couponing, budgeting, organizing, and examining your life in a whole different way.

I like cheaptitude. I love cheaptitude. I live cheaptitude. This is as positive as you choose to make it.

Jeepnmom is having fits with me.  She is having trouble figuring out how to make all of my ideas blend and work at the same time without becoming overwhelmed – or her family throwing her out because her CDO isn’t meshing well with the Life of Cheaptitude.  Which leaves me trying to figure out how I make it all work together.  There is a reason all of my pieces are separate posts!

And I don’t have the answer.  I just do it. I have perfected nothing.  My house is a wreck and I forget that my big monkey has to serve Mass every time the church doors open.  I’m just better at all of this than I was in the past.

So let’s address the first step in the Journey to Cheaptitude.  Honestly, the first thing to do is determine your purpose and set some goals.  Is the clutter in your house making you crazy?  Did you or your partner lose a job and you have to tighten the purse strings?  Are you worried about how smoothly your house would run if you were unavailable suddenly?  Why are you exploring Cheaptitude?  Determine your purpose.  What are your long and short-term expectations from a life of Cheaptitude?  Set your goals.  Once you know your purpose and goals, you can work on putting all of these puzzle pieces together.

Household Management Binder

One of the pieces of the puzzle is a home management binder.  I have several other posts (11, I think) about the sections in a management binder.  My way is not the only way!  It’s just the way it has worked for me.  Tweak it, modify it, make it your own.  As I’ve stated before, my original binder looks nothing like the one(s) I’m compiling now!  A quick Google search can take you to some great starting places.

In my particular baby step system, the first thing you need to do in setting up your binder is gather your supplies.  Some of the basics I use are:

That’s really all you need to get started.  Put all of your junk in your binder and you’ve completed the first step. Easy Peasy.  You may have all of this stuff on hand already.

If you’re feeling spunky and want to get started on filling up your binder, I suggest the Emergency Information section.  This one is pretty easy and you’ll feel accomplished without taking a whole lot of valuable time.

Cleaning

I’m not a naturally neat person, nor did I marry one.  However, my house is not dirty.  And I’ve tried, over the years, to streamline the process.  In order to do this, take a pen and piece of paper and go into every room in your home.  In each room, list every possible cleaning chore that occurs in there.  No joke, right down to cleaning the reflector bowls in the stove.  This list for each room will be potentially overwhelming.  I’m sorry, but it’s the way it has to be.

Now that you have your lists, go through with a highlighter and mark the 5 essential chores for each room. These should be the 5 things that have to be done in order for your home to have a semblance of clean.  Some people call this list the Magic Minimums, some call it Company-Ready chores.  These are the things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep you satisfied with your home.  For example, mine includes “no dishes in the sink, countertops wiped down” etc.

Decide on a frequency for your chores.  I need to dust every week, but the laminate floors need to be swept daily.  Assign a frequency to every chore.  Slide this list into a pocket in your binder.  We’ll come back to it!

Budgeting

Budget is not a favorite word with most people.  But it is necessary when adopting Cheaptitude. Again, set a purpose and goals, because this helps make your budget stick.

When Grizzly and I attack our budget, we start by listing our total, after-tax income.  Then we list our fixed bills (mortgage, car note, etc.), our variable bills (utilities, gasoline, etc.), and our occasional bills (monkey lunch money occurs August-May, air conditioner service contract is renewed once a year).  We include due dates and amounts, and we plan for savings.  Every time my paycheck hits the bank, $10 is automatically transferred into our household savings account, and it takes an act of Congress to convince me to move it!

I strongly suggest a Google search for budgeting tips and forms.  Personally, I like to see it on paper.  That helps us visualize what we can cut back and how we need to redistribute things.

If one of your goals is debt reduction (as mine is), check out Dave Ramsey.  We attended the Financial Peace series a few years ago and it was eye-opening.  I’m snowballing now and it’s working well.

Food

I love food.  I received some amazing goodies during Teacher Appreciation Week, but what stands out is the food (love some meat pies!)  Organizing your food and meal situations is a huge part of Cheaptitude.

Take your handy dandy pen and paper and go to your pantry/cabinet.  Make a list of everything that is in there.  Highlight those things that you always use, always need to have on hand (12 boxes of cereal, anyone?  3 jars of peanut butter?  My friends know I have weird stockpiling tendencies).  Do the same with your fridge and freezer(s).  The highlighted items should form the basis for your grocery list.  Those are also the items you can make your main focus for couponing and stockpiling, huge money savers.

What meals can you make with the standard items in your home?  Planning meals ahead saves time, energy, and money.  Use your coupons, weekly circulars, and family favorite recipes to build a basic menu plan.  I am a huge proponent of freezer-to-crockpot meals – inexpensive, healthy, filling, and tasty.  It is less intimidating to plan a week at a time in the beginning.  Use what you have, and plan one night for leftovers.

Hoarding Stockpiling

One of the tricks to saving money is buying things when they are at their best prices, and buying enough to last until they’re at a good price again. When I started stockpiling, I focused on some of the things that we constantly run out of and spend the most on.  My friends think I’m crazy, but I try to keep 12 boxes of cereal in the pantry at all times.  I have two monkeys, one of whom is a 12 year-old boy ( they should come with warning labels), and Grizzly loves a bedtime bowl of cereal. Ergo, 12 boxes.  When you shop with a purpose, and shop regularly, you get familiar with when you can get a good price on things.  And I’m not particularly brand-loyal, which helps.

I also stockpile toilet paper, shampoo, and shaving needs.  I haven’t purchased a deodorant in a year.  And everyone still smells pretty fresh.

Decluttering

Isn’t it ironic that right after discussing stockpiles I want to talk about decluttering?  My stockpiles are not clutter.  My stockpiles are in established areas that have been set aside, specifically purposed for stockpiling. Decluttering is a whole different thing.

All of us have some kind of clutter in our lives.  Clutter takes up valuable space, energy, time, etc.  I’ve been working for a long time to declutter my home.  I focus on small areas, a drawer or a shelf is a great place to start.

Clear the entire area and clean it up.  Then sort all of those items into categories: put away, throw away, give away, donate.  If the items do not fit into the purpose for that space, find them new homes!  You’ll be amazed at what leaves your home.  And I’m pretty sure you won’t miss it.

I used to set a timer for decluttering.  It works.  If you set a timer for 15 minutes and devote your energy and attention to one area that is bothering you, you can accomplish a lot.

I’m not such a timer girl anymore.  I have a another trick I use to make decluttering “fun.”  A friend of mine, PT Lady, calls me when she’s cleaning toilets.  Well, Jeepnmom and I talk usually once a week, at least, and while we chat, I declutter.  Knowing that my kitchen drawers have been a steaming hot mess and bug the poop out of me, she even texts me occasionally that it is time to tackle a drawer.  It makes the chore more fun.

Routines and Habits

I hear all the time that it takes 21 days to establish a habit.  I think the same pretty much applies to getting routines in place.  Schedule yourself some time each day to declutter, binderize, clean, plan.  I like 15 minute increments, personally, because that’s about the longest I can have time to myself and I can get a ton done in that short amount of time.

I guess these are my suggestions on how to get started and putting it all together.  I don’t have this system perfected, but what system ever is?  It’s a work in progress, and yours won’t look like mine.  But maybe this will get you started (JEEPNMOM!!)

What else do I need to throw in here to help jumpstart your journey?

~ Katie

 

 

 

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Credit CardThis was the Money & Finance Divider.  I’m doing things differently this go-round, setting up a separate binder, but I’m glad to share how it was set up in the past.

 

One of the most important things in the Money & Finance section is that ugly B-word that so many people my age no longer believe in: BUDGET.  I used to keep both weekly and monthly budgets, along with a spending record.  Was it overkill?  A little.  Was it overwhelming?  Absolutely.  Now I keep a monthly budget and it is much easier to keep these days.  My snowball plan goes with the budget – I love love love watching bills shrink!

 

I also kept up with bills to pay in the binder.  I used pocket dividers labeled Week 1, Week 2, etc., and that is where the bills would live till they were paid.  Now I pay most bills electronically, and the pocket dividers are not as necessary as they were years ago.  I now envision a calendar to track bill paying.

 

Credit Card List:  OMG.  When Grizzly and I were early marrieds, I probably couldn’t have told you what credit cards we had.  We were living on credit, I think.  Years and a Dave Ramsey class later, we’re near the other end of the spectrum.  Thank goodness!  But we do still tote a little plastic.  A list of credit cards, the payment information, and maybe even photo copies (in case of a stolen or lost wallet) would be helpful.

 

I also kept a directory of utilities and subscriptions. I listed the service, our account number, and any relevant contact information for said service.  When we lived in NoBo, our electricity went out at least three times a month, and I was so happy to have a ready reference to call and report an outage!  While we don’t have that issue anymore, I don’t know that Grizzly would be able to change anything on our satellite account or water billing without asking me.  Which is part of why this list is a good idea.

 

Insurance information, a home inventory, and warranty information can be kept here.  Over the years, we’ve added life insurance and home owner’s insurance to top our vehicle insurance.  I also have a small policy through my workplace. So many times, when a spouse or parent passes away, people don’t know what insurances are out there on their loved one.   Having everything in one location aid the big guy in settling things should something ever happen to me.

 

Other things for this section might include:

 

  • Vehicle information: financing, insurance, maintenance.  The blue lemon has its own binder, due to excessive maintenance since it joined our family.
  • Safety Deposit/Fire Box inventories:  This one is necessary because nobody knows where I keep anything important.
  • Banking information:  I’ve always used multiple financial institutions, and keep a list of accounts, as well as statements, with the rest of my financial foo fa.

 

I like everything in one place, easily accessible.  What else should go in a money binder?

 

~ Katie

 

 

 

 



et cetera
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